resident Donald Trump is set to meet Monday with the so-called “Trump of the East,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, another controversial world leader known for his ultra-tough approach.
However, the first formal sit-down between the two leaders may not trigger substantial changes in the Philippines’ human-rights record. In fact, Duterte said last week that he would tell Trump to “lay off” if he raised the issue of human rights, according to Reuters.
Breaking with his presidential predecessors, Trump largely has abandoned publicly pressing foreign leaders on human rights, instead showing a willingness to embrace international strongmen for strategic gain.
This week, Duterte boasted that he murdered a man with his own hands.
Duterte’s war on drugs has alarmed human rights advocates around the world who say it has allowed police officers and vigilantes to ignore due process and to take justice into their own hands. Government officials estimate that well over 3,000 people, mostly drug users and dealers, have died in the ongoing crackdown. Human rights groups believe the victim total is far higher, perhaps closer to 9,000.
Duterte has defended the violence strenuously and boasted of participating himself.